Releasing a single these days is not what it used to be. Most people don’t own a record player or even know how to use them. It used to be that a rock band could put their best two songs on a smaller vinyl that would give you a taste of their new album and direction. Also, before the days of MP3s making, stealing and acquiring music easier than ever conceivable in the past, people actually spent money on music without knowing if they’d like it or not. And there weren’t awesome websites like Pop ‘stache that were out there to help you along the way.
That is where the lost art form of the single had its niche for years. Up until the 1990s, people were still making singles on CDs. I remember getting a few when I was younger and finding that sometimes there’d be an extra track or two that wasn’t on the real album, or there’d be a different edit of the song altogether. After Napster and music downloading killed what was the music industry, there has been a resurgence in vinyls and the life of the single.
The only people buying music now are the true audiophiles; the people who go to shows every weekend and actually care about supporting a band with their hard earned money. The people who know if they get some merchandise it’ll mean the difference between the band being able to make it to another show or not.
That said, Chicago’s Rabble Rabble has cornered the market on what a contemporary single release should look like.
Rabble Rabble threw a single release party earlier in May to mark the release of their newest two songs, “Long Hook” and “Why Not?” They brought local Chicago band Distractions to open up the set, and Indianapolis hard rockers We Are Hex built up the energy before Rabble Rabble took the stage.
The vinyl was for sale at the merch table the whole night. Rabble Rabble members were in and out of the bar as people hung out and watched the other bands. The digital tracks were up for streaming a week or so before the show, so people addicted to the information age could get a taste of the tracks before the show. Rabble Rabble took the stage and killed it.
They took the manic energy that was in the air and created the perfect canvas to display their old songs against their two new singles and created a great show for everyone there.
“Long Hook” and “Why Not?” are stylistically Rabble Rabble’s best. They have taken their own personal blend of chaotic and bubbling over energy that long time fans have grown to know as Rabble’s signature. “Long Hook” is a ghostly track that shows Rabble Rabble has grown as a band.
If their debut work was Rabble learning to walk and subsequent releases after that were Rabble learning to run and jump, this single is Rabble showing us that they can do handsprings and back flips. This single is Rabble Rabble showing they can do macroeconomics tripping on LSD while juggling knives. Both songs are fluid and confident. They have that mix of punk and psychedelic kicked up to 11 so you’ll know its Rabble Rabble without question.
This is the way a single should be dropped. Most of the time when you ask someone what a ”single” means to them, they’ll say something about Lady Gaga or the Top 40. The real, beating heart lifeblood of the single is nowhere near those categories.